As “New Year, New Me” posts start flooding our social media feeds, you might be thinking about your own resolutions.
But the thing we don’t think about is how to make those new habits stick.
According to Jen Sincero, author of “Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick,” boundaries are essential to helping any new habit stick.
“Healthy boundaries are especially critical when it comes to creating new habits, because in order to stay the course, you can’t afford to have your time structured by outside forces, your beliefs swayed by naysayers, or your attention consumed by your (often unconscious) need to control those around you,” Sincero wrote.
Overloading yourself because you find yourself unable to say no to family and friends in need may mean never having time to hit the gym like you wanted to every day at 6 a.m. or meal prep on Mondays.
Here are the three most common mistakes people make when setting boundaries, according to Sincero.
You agree to everything, even if you don’t have the capacity
One of the most common mistakes we make in setting boundaries is essentially having none at all. Saying yes all the time can feel nice in the moment and make you feel like a helpful friend but could leave you with no time or energy to accomplish your goals or care for yourself.
“We say yes to everything because we want to avoid confrontations, disappointing others, appearing selfish, or missing out on the chance to feel needed and important,” Sincero wrote.
Rather than be a “yes man,” consider if you have time and resources to help a friend, drive your little cousin to soccer practice, or get the full check at dinner. Say yes if you can, but don’t be afraid to say no if it’s too much to handle.
You say no to everything out of fear of rejection or hurt
On the other extreme, some people trade in healthy boundaries for building up an impenetrable wall that lets no one in. Saying no, while often important, can be a way of blocking people and new experiences out because you’re scared of the unknown.
“We say not to everything for fear of being seen, disappointed, disappointing, judged, inadequate, needy, or hurt,” Sincero wrote. “We put up a wall to hide behind as opposed to creating a boundary that allows us to fully flourish.”
Before saying no next time, consider if you’re turning down an opportunity out of a lack of capacity or out of fear.
Getting involved in other people’s problems too often, or expecting them to intervene in yours
Staying in a toxic cycle of no boundaries with close friends and family can make it difficult to adopt healthy habits. If you expect people to constantly drop their needs to help you, you won’t develop boundaries that help you and your friends succeed.
“We try to control other people, get them to take on our problems, and/or become overly involved with their problems,” Sincero wrote. “We seek out those who will enable us and/or become enablers ourselves because we don’t want to fix our own lives.”
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